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Removing the pain from e-disclosure

Which pain points will the new breed of e-disclosure solutions eliminate in 2014? Simon Price, UK managing director at Recommind, reports on the recent LegalTech event in New York.

The uncontrollable growth of electronically stored information is causing difficulties for companies ra2Studio

Earlier this month saw the annual gathering of the legal technology community at the LegalTech show. Despite the snow storms hitting the US east coast, the New York Hilton was packed with the great and good from across the legal profession, their client base and the supporting vendor community. Each year LegalTech sets the global agenda for legal technology in the year ahead and in the context of this year’s event and the plethora of product launches that coincided with it, I would like to take a look at some of the challenges facing those involved specifically with eDisclosure and how one product launched in New York this month will overcome them.
During the past decade, law firms and their clients have been facing increasing pressures from the uncontrollable growth of electronically stored information (ESI). These constantly increasing data volumes are causing severe headaches for those involved in e-disclosure, due to the increasing complexity of data collection, the time pressures for disclosure and spiralling costs. This year at LegalTech we heard from numerous corporations and law firms of the need to focus on three main areas in e-disclosure to overcome these headaches:
1) Review efficiency – reducing costs and time spent
Earlier this month Thomson Reuters revealed that the FTSE 100 companies increased their combined legal spend by 12 per cent in 2013 to £24.6 billion and UK financial firms pushed their combined expected legal liabilities to £9.22bn, up 43 per cent on the previous year. These are huge numbers and are clear indicators of the huge costs being put aside for legal disputes and regulatory investigations. Many law firms and in house legal teams are struggling to resource the escalating burden of e-disclosure as the volume of cases and ESI grows. Therefore they need to embrace technology that can assist in reducing the burden as well as the costs.
2) Improving early insight into case strategy
Practice Direction 31B encourages parties to “reach agreement in relation to the disclosure of electronic documents in a proportionate and cost-effective manner”. The pressure is therefore now on the parties to gain early insights into a case and 2014 will see more widespread adoption of technology with prioritised review and automated workflows, to help the lawyers understand the nature of the data more quickly and completely – giving them a head start in implementing a successful case strategy.
3) Confidence and control – greater visibility into the review process
Real-time visualisation of trends has become the norm for most people in our everyday lives – we love a graph or a ‘trending’ update, they assist us in getting to key information quicker as well as help us gain insight and spot trends immediately. Lawyers are similarly looking to visually interact with case data to better manage and control their eDisclosure projects. With advanced analytics and data visualisation this is now a reality. 2014 will also see lawyers being able to better plan resources and predict completion times through real-time status updates – giving lawyers confidence in a case and more control over costs and resources. 
These challenges also lead us to ponder questions such as; what was our total spend on e-disclosure last year? What was the breakdown of that spend? Where can we make savings? It is clear that the eDisclosure element of litigation is not going to go away therefore how can firms embrace new technology to answer some of these questions, cure the headaches and reduce unnecessary costs. 
Lawyers are inherently cautious of new technology. However a new generation of simple yet powerful software solutions are knocking down this barrier by providing easy to use applications that work for them, rather than hindering them. At LegalTech 2014 this year Recommind demonstrated one such application that is set to tackle these problems and revolutionise the way lawyers manage eDisclosure. Following two years of development Axcelerate 5 combines ‘Power’ and ‘Simplicity’ and will set a new benchmark for review efficiency, helping lawyers to find the key facts that will make or break their case faster and more reliably.
Predictive coding
One key parts of the Axcelerate system has always been its powerful predictive coding engine, which has been further streamlined to make it even easier to prioritise a review. The value of predictive coding is its ability to identify responsive documents - based on input from a senior lawyer - and then repeat that process until a threshold of responsive documents has been reached.  The technology can be used to create highly responsive, computer-suggested review batches that can then be assigned to reviewers and make the review process much more efficient - in every case, not just large matters. 
 Another major innovation in Axcelerate 5 is the adoption of a consumer-grade interface, including visualisation that enables lawyers to see cases in a whole different light. 
 Hopefully solutions like Axcelerate 5 will usher in a new era of e-disclosure in the UK and if this year’s LegalTech is anything to go by the storm has already blown through the market. With more powerful technologies available, lawyers are truly able to focus on getting to the facts quicker, winning the case and reducing unnecessary costs. 

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25 February 2014

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